clarify ahead of time who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed on any given decision. Clarity around these roles improves the quality and, particularly, the speed of decisions, because people know ahead of time whether or how they need to be involved and at what stage. From an agile development point of view, the RACI model becomes a product that needs to be developed, so a cross-functional team would be created to identify a backlog of items that need to be built to complete that product. Job descriptions might need to be altered to clarify roles, and perhaps team meeting processes would need to be changed to make sure each role had the space to accomplish its task. The team then prioritizes which parts can be accomplished in the next sprint. For software, sprints are typically two weeks in length, and the team members are working full time on the sprint. For culture change, we often map this out in four-week increments, knowing that the team members also have their regular jobs to work on, though two-week sprints can also be included, depending on the tasks involved. During the sprint, the team assigns specific tasks to individuals that are designed to get just a piece of that product into a deliverable state. Maybe their first sprint on the RACI product will focus on job descriptions. The team will not rewrite every job description in the organization during that sprint; instead they will choose maybe a couple of job descriptions in one department and work on those, getting feedback from the individuals in those roles, so they not only get the job descriptions done, they will see how they impact getting the work done. As they implement that one small piece, they are learning and can apply that learning to the continued work on job descriptions and on the RACI product in general. In fact, they may learn in that process that job descriptions are a lower priority, and that changes to the meeting process will have more of an impact. Finding that out after four weeks, as opposed to the six months it would have taken them to draft all the new job descriptions, means they will make more meaningful change, more quickly. That’s the advantage of the agile method, which is why we advise all our clients to integrate it into their culture work. The agile
that would drive results. One of the priorities addressed this speed/voice issue directly: PriOriTy Everyone has a voice, but not everyone decides. If they were more streamlined and rigorous around their decision-making process, then they could achieve the speed, without sacrificing their team spirit or their value around inclusion. Having a voice is not the same thing as making the decision, so they started working hard to clarify that. And here’s where the agile part comes in. Too many organizations stop the hard work once they get clear on the priority. They pat themselves on the back for achieving the important insight, and then they vaguely tell their people to start living the new cultural norm. And then, a few months later, when they slip back into their old patterns, they believe that change is hard and buy everyone a copy of Who Moved my Cheese? Agile puts a stop to that. Now that the organization has articulated their priority, they are in the process of developing a Playbook with a list of specific plays that they will run in order to make those priorities the reality inside the organization. The Playbook includes offensive plays (designed to introduce something new into their culture) and defensive plays (designed to protect elements of their culture that are already supporting the priorities). In both developing and implementing these plays, the organization is using agile methods. To develop the plays, we helped the organization create a cross-functional culture team that broke into groups to develop the plays around the specific priorities. As they flesh out the specific plays, they are bringing in feedback from the rest of the staff, so they don’t go too far down the road planning some change that will, in fact, cause other problems in areas they had not considered. With each sprint, they get closer to developing a more complete play. And when they transition into implementing these plays, they can use the same process. For example, in sharpening their decision- making processes, they have chosen to implement the RACI model.This is a project management process that requires teams to
method doesn’t make this work easy. Being clear and intentional about your culture and aligning that culture with what drives your success is all hard work. If it were easy, we’d all already be doing it, and every place would be a Best Place to Work. In fact, those best places tend to be the ones that have wrestled the culture priorities to the ground and achieved that alignment. The agile method simply opens up this opportunity to more organizations. If you’re willing to do the hard work of decoding your culture and developing a targeted upgrade playbook, then agile can be the bridge that takes you through to successful implementation. You won’t need any books or programs on change management. You’ll just need more shelf space for your Best Place to Work awards. Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter are founding partners at WorkXO, a start-up that helps growth-oriented leaders activate their workplace cultures and unleash human potential, and they have decades of experience in the nonprofit community. For more information on their culture assessment and activation program, visit www.workxo.com/genome .
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